Vancouver – In a year where many doubt them and few believed, the Carleton Ravens silenced all critics and reminded everybody of the greatest collegiate basketball dynasty in North America by winning a Canadian University Sport (CIS) record twelve and their sixth CIS Men’s Basketball championships.
After the massive loss of four starters, including First-Team All-Canadian, Scrubb brother tandem, Philip & Thomas and Canadian Basketball Hall-of-Famer Head coach Dave Smart (sabbatical reasons), coupled with the overall growth and parity of the CIS game, it was easy to look past the Carleton Ravens. Most were already looking next door, across the Rideau Canal to Monpetit Hall, others, perhaps to the next city and next potential champion.
But behind a Carleton Raven patent barrage of three-pointers and an overall, all-around offensive and defensive first team effort the No. 2 Carleton Ravens like they have done before, during their dozen-long, strangle-hold of the W.P McGee trophy, convincingly defeated the No. 4 Calgary Dinos 100-79, claiming the 2016 CIS Men’s Championship and thus reminding the 4,415+ crowd at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre, and all of us that they’ve been down this graduation, adversity road once or twice since it all begun back in 2003.
“It’s just a lot of fun,” said Smart.“People called it a rebuilding year, and we kind of figured out halfway that our identity was a little different, and we were going to have to do it by committee. I think every body chipped in. I don’t know – we said it from the start – players were a good fit for our coaches. Neither of us really knew what we were doing, and we kind of stayed with it.”
All five Ravens starters reached double-figures with Carleton’s fourth-year guard Connor Wood (Guelph, ON) making it four-for-four – as in winning four championships, in four seasons by pour in a team-high 22-points on 5-of-12 three-pointers and four assists, four rebounds on his way to being named the 2016 CIS Final 8 Most Valuable Player of the tournament. Fifth year seniors Gavin Resch (18 points, 6-of-12 three-pointers) and forward Guillaume Boucard (12 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists) went out with a bang, ending their collegiate careers once again hosting the W.P McGee Trophy.
Point Guard Kaza Kajami-Keane (Ajax, ON) and Forward Ryan Ejim (Toronto, ON) both transferred to the Ravens program with the sole purpose of winning a championship title and were both instrumental in adding to the long list of Gold medals, championship banners and hardware collection at the Ravens Nest. Keane who benefited from the new CIS/NCAA transfer rule finished with 15-point, 10-assist double-double while Ejim added 12 points, 6 rebounds and four blocks.
Calgary returned to the title game for the first time in 50 years (1966) and scored the first points of the highly anticipated championship on a made basket by All-Canadian, American Thomas Cooper (Chattanogga, Tenn.) who netted a game-high 25 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists, but never regained the lead as the Ravens buried sixth triples in the first-quarter to grab a commanding 26-14 advantage, cruising to a game-high 24-point lead before settling in for yet another Championship celebration.
The Ravens shot the lights out in the opening half, burying 10-of-20 (50%) three-pointers and added six more to finish the night at 16-of-36 (44%). Carleton got 21 more shots up than Calgary on 40-for-81 (49.4%) shooting from the floor. Calgary managed only 66 attempts, making only 26, for only 39%. Ravens also held the Dinos to 7-of-28 (25%) on threes and won the rebounding war with 47-37 advantage.
The Ravens are now 12-0 in CIS championship games, their only losses have both happened in Ottawa at the National semi-finals stage (2008 vs. Acadia Axemen & 2010 vs. Saskatchewan Huskies). Additionally, the 101 points scored against the Dinos marks the most points Carleton has ever scored in CIS Final 8 game and the most (79) points they’ve allowed during their current twelve championships.
With their sixth straight national title in hand the Ravens move within one of the all-time record held by the 1979-86 Victoria Vikes for most consecutive CIS championships at seven.
With only two fifth-year graduating players expected to leave the Nest and the eminent return of the Dave Smart looming, you can bet the #Questfor7 hashtag will eventually come to life and the preparation for number seven will begin tomorrow and will likely end with Carleton celebrating in Halifax in 2017.